Featuring Guest Blogger, David Herman (engineer and father of Peri K. ’19)

We previously announced Harrisburg Academy’s participation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR National Building Competition, “Battle of the Buildings,” to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and protect the environment. In the spirit of popular weight-loss competitions, Harrisburg Academy has been battling it out against thousands of other teams from buildings across the country to “work off the waste” through improvements in energy efficiency with help from EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

The midpoint weigh-in results have been posted, and we’ve made significant progress so far. Harrisburg Academy weighed in with a 4 percent energy use reduction through June 2012, saving approximately $6,600 and preventing 15 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equal to that produced by generating the electricity used annually by 2 homes). The Academy ranks in the top 30 percent of buildings competing. And all in just six months! In fact, the more than 3,000 competitors together have saved more than $37 million on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 16,000 homes annually.

The teams in the 2012 competition represent more than 30 different types of commercial buildings — such as retail stores, schools, hotels, and museums — and hail from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The competitors range from a Kmart store on the island of St. Thomas, to a crime lab in Phoenix, to a tiny Federal office building in Nome, Alaska, to Harrisburg Academy in Wormleysburg, Pa.

Competitors are measuring and tracking their buildings’ monthly energy and water consumption using EPA’s ENERGY STAR online tracking tool, Portfolio Manager; making improvements to their building’s performance; and sharing their progress. Of the initial pool of 3,200-plus competitors, the building that demonstrates the greatest percentage-based reduction in energy use intensity will be recognized as the winner in April 2013.

“Competitors in the third year of the Energy Star Battle of the Buildings are already achieving hard-hitting energy-savings,” said Jean Lupinacci, chief of the ENERGY STAR program for commercial buildings and industrial plants. “The stories behind these energy savings speak to the dedication of American businesses and organizations to protecting the environment and public health, and to economic common sense.”

Now entering the final stretch of the competition, building teams are pulling out all the stops to save energy, save money, and protect the environment. To continue our energy-reduction diet here at Harrisburg Academy, we still need your help! Small changes by all of us add up to big savings, so every little bit counts. Here are just a few ways you can pitch in:

• For those of you using classroom, office, or meeting space in the building, turn off lights when there’s enough daylight to light the space, when you leave an empty room, and at the end of the day.
• For employees and students, enable the ENERGY STAR power management features on your computer make sure they go into “power save mode” when not in use.
• Unplug electronics such as cell phones and laptops once they are charged if you are charging them here at school.
• Keep air vents clear of paper, files, and school supplies.
• Report water leaks in restrooms or irrigation systems throughout the school.

According to EPA, energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and energy use at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. On average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. Thousands of businesses and organizations work with EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and are saving billions of dollars and preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere each year.

Don’t miss the final winner announcement in April 2013! Continue to watch the battle unfold at www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings .  And go, Spartans!